bowl of soup with big chunks of salmon
Jodie Morgan's Salmon Chowder (Photo/Ed Anderson)

Warm up, fill up with salmon chowder

During the colder winter months, nothing quite warms you up like a hearty soup. This creamy-rich salmon chowder has been a favorite at our house for years. It has now become a regular feature at our adult children’s homes as well.

This chowder is filling enough to serve as a main course, too. It’s loaded with chunks of salmon and potato along with corn, leeks, mushrooms and tomatoes. But it’s not “fishy.” Instead, you’ll find it to be a mild-flavored dish that appeals to a broad range of tastes. (The jalapeño pepper adds just a subtle amount of heat.)

There are many commercial options for vegetable stock, which provides the liquid base for the chowder. But I prefer to make my own. It’s easy to do, and the aromas bring me back to my childhood kitchen. I also use this stock as a base for many different soups or grains to add more flavor than plain water.

In your glass: Light-textured, dry white wines or rosés are perfect accompaniments. Just about any one will enhance your meal!

Salmon Chowder and Vegetable Stock

Serves 6

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 medium white potatoes, diced
2 leeks, white part only, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
28-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock, homemade (see below) or low-sodium commercial
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (any varietal will do)
2 tsp. salt, plus salt to taste
1 lb. fresh salmon fillets or steaks; skin, bones removed; cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears corn)
6 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground pepper

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeño and sauté until the onion is transparent, about 3 minutes.

Add the potatoes and leeks and continue to sauté until the leeks have wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, wine and 2 tsp. salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the salmon and continue to simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and mushrooms, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the half-and-half and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.


Vegetable Stock

Makes about 2 quarts

3 qts. water
2 tsp. salt
1 large onion (unpeeled), quartered
2 celery stalks, tops removed, cut in half
4 carrots, peeled, cut in quarters
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
20–25 sprigs fresh, flat leaf parsley
1 Tbs. apple cider (or other white) vinegar
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

In a large pot (at least a 6-qt. pot), bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Add all the other ingredients. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Partially cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, uncover, and let the liquid cool for about 30 more minutes. Strain through a colander. Using a large spoon or potato masher, press on the vegetables in the colander to extract more flavorful liquid. Then use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the liquid one more time to remove solids. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze.

Jodie Morgan

Jodie Morgan is a co-owner of Covenant Winery in Berkeley and has co-authored eight cookbooks with her husband, Jeff Morgan. Their latest is “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table.”